An SEC baseball season like none other, just when you think you have a team figured out, they flip the script the following week. It was no different in the final weekend of the regular season.
Several teams came into the final week of the season with a lot on the line, and there will still be a lot to play for during this week’s SEC Tournament.
A Week Later – LSU is Back
Coming into the final weekend of the regular season it looked like Vanderbilt was finally starting to turn a corner, and looked like LSU was heading in the wrong direction after getting swept at home by Ole Miss.
The Tigers responded by getting a sweep on the road over the Commodores and now might have a shot of hosting a regional finishing with the fourth most conference wins.
The offense was on fire scoring 13, 8, and 21 runs in the three-game sweep.
Dylan Crews made a run at conference player of the year with a huge weekend picking up 7 hits, 4 walks, 8 runs, 9 RBI, and 4 home runs.
As for Vanderbilt, they finish with a losing record in SEC Play. While they’re likely safe to make the NCAA Tournament, a win or two in Hoover would make them feel a lot better.
They did sit out Carter Holton over the weekend and should have him ready to go on Tuesday.
Kentucky Claims Final Spot, Will Continue Series with Auburn
Missouri made things interesting for the final spot in Hoover as they won the first two games against Georgia and then were up late in game three before the Bulldogs came back.
Kentucky took care of business themselves though, winning their series against Auburn and claiming that 12th seed in the SEC Tournament.
Now they’ll need to beat them again to continue their season as those two will meet in the opening round on Tuesday.
Auburn and Georgia both came into the weekend with a chance to host a regional, but with bad series losses they might miss out depending on how things go in Hoover.
Figuring out the Rest
Alabama needed at least a win coming into the weekend to punch their ticket to Hoover – they did better than that with a huge series win over Arkansas who may be losing their grip on a top eight national seed and perhaps even a host bid.
Texas A&M looks good for one of those top eight spots after a series win over Ole Miss.
Florida is trending in the right direction winning their last four SEC series and going 9-3 in those series. They finished 15-15 in conference and will be a dangerous two-seed in a regional.
Also, like Auburn and Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina will continue their series as they will meet up in the first round on Tuesday.
And most surprising of all, the defending College World Series champions finish with the worst conference record. Mississippi State will not even make it to the SEC Tournament.
What to Watch for in Hoover
Searching for National Seed: Tennessee is essentially a lock to be the number one overall team in the country. They’ve pretty clearly been the best team in college baseball all season.
Texas A&M has a pretty firm grasp on a top eight seed, but one win would likely make it a lock.
Arkansas and LSU would have to make pretty deep runs – and perhaps even win it all – to have a shot at a national seed, but they remain in the running.
Searching for a Host: Auburn, LSU, and Arkansas could mix in the mix to host regionals. They all might need a win or two in Hoover.
Teams in the NCAA Tournament: Tennessee, Texas A&M, Arkansas, LSU, and Auburn are all locks to make the NCAA Tournament.
Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss are also pretty safe bets to make the tournament. However, they’d all feel a little better with a couple of wins in the SEC Tournament.
Teams on the Bubble: Alabama and Kentucky put themselves back in the NCAA Tournament with big series wins to finish the regular season. They rank 47th and 54th in RPI respectively according to Warren Nolan.
It’s a pretty similar situation for Alabama who finished the regular season 12-17 last year and then won the first two games of the SEC Tournament and that was good enough to reach the postseason.
They might need three wins this year, but there is a chance.